Your phone could soon get juiced over the air from a foot away. That’s thanks to the work of a new startup called Pi. Founded by two MIT graduates, it has developed a wireless charger that uses a honed version of inductive charging to send power further than previous versions of the technology.
For those unfamiliar, inductive charging is straightforward in theory. A system sets up an alternating electromagnetic field, and then an induction coil in (or attached to) a smaller device harvests power from it. Until now, commercially available wireless gadget charging has required you to place a device on something like a charging mat, but Pi has developed some fancy math that allows it to quickly detect a gadget then shape its magnetic fields to target power to devices up to 12 inches away.
According to TechCrunch the device, which is the truncated cone in the image above, can juice five phone or tablets at once (no laptops for now), with the rate of charge falling as a device moves away from it. It will cost under $200 when it goes on sale in 2018. Let’s hope it works well in the home: as we’ve reported before, other long-range wireless chargers have flopped before they’ve been launched as real products.